Colorful is the title of an anime film by Sunrise that was released in 2010. It was directed by Keiichi Hara and produced by Atsuhiro Iwakami. Based on the novel by Mori Eto, Colorful tells the story of a soul that has found its way to the afterlife after committing a sin during life. There, the soul encounters what it believes is an angel who informs him that he has won a second chance. The soul is to return to the world of the living in the body of Makoto Kobayashi in order to remember his sin and be reborn again. Makoto is a 14 year old boy who committed suicide and just as he dies, the soul is inserted into his body to take his place. With the “angel” as a guide, the soul is given six months to remember what his sin was through Makoto’s life.
While the title of the film may be Colorful, most of the film is far from that. On the surface, Makoto seems to live with a normal happy family, but not everything is as it seems. As the “angel” explains early on, Makoto’s father is constantly at work, his mother is having an affair, and his brother never talks to him. To make matters worse, Makoto has no friends at school and the girl he has a crush on is an underage prostitute. The soul within Makoto’s body initially disregards why Makoto committed suicide, but as he slowly discovers, the emotions that Makoto felt are hard to ignore. Every time he tries to turn a blind eye to something, another problem comes up that casts a shadow over Makoto’s life.
All of the darkness that Makoto experiences does serve a purpose that becomes clear midway through the film. Despite all of the horrible things that happen, there are a few moments when the soul within Makoto discovers something worth enjoying: spending a day with a friend, chatting with a classmate, going fishing with his father, and knowing he has the support of his family. The joys of these simple pleasures are greatly enhanced when contrasted with the darkness that Makoto lived through. There may be a so-called “angel” in the film, but it is not about any religion. Rather, it is a celebration of life and a reminder to enjoy it while you can.
Being a film about self-reflection, Colorful may lack any fast-paced action scenes, but that doesn’t mean that the animation quality was lacking. Sunrise is a large and experienced animation studio and it shows when you consider the wonderfully detailed settings found throughout the film. I found the grey scenes (literally) leading up to Makoto’s discovery of his crush being a prostitute contrasted well with the bright and colorful scenes shortly after when he makes his first friend. The style of the character designs may be more dull and simplistic than what most anime viewers are accustomed to, but they serve their purpose and don’t distract from the meat of the film, which is the story.
Colorful is a pleasant film that conveys an important message in a way that makes you feel for the character. It doesn’t have action or comedy so it’s not for everyone, but I’m sure if you enjoy a good heartwarming story, then you’ll enjoy Colorful.